Enes Kanter became an American citizen Monday—and the Turkish-born Boston Celtics center celebrated his new citizenship with a new name. Hank Fetic, the 29-year-old's manager, told the AP Monday that Kanter's name change to Enes Kanter Freedom would happen at the same time as the citizenship ceremony. Hours later, Kanter tweeted: "I am proud to be an American. Greatest nation in the world." The player, who is known for his outspoken support of human rights, told CNN that his new last name comes from what teammates have been calling him. Last month, Celtics games were blacked out in China after Kanter slammed Xi Jinping as a "brutal dictator" and voiced support for Tibet.
The player has also strongly criticized China's treatment of Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Uigher people. The new name will be on his jersey when the Celtics play the Philadelphia 76ers this week, the BBC reports. He told CNN that he wants the new name to reflect his fight for freedom. In the US, "there is freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of the press," he said. "I didn't have any of those with Turkey."
Kanter, an 11-year NBA veteran, has said his passport was revoked in 2017 after he criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish government. "Just because I talk about democracy, human rights, and freedom, the Turkish government calls me a terrorist" he told the Guardian last year. "It is the craziest thing. The only thing I terrorize is the basketball ring." (On Friday, he used his shoes to make a statement.)